It has been announced that India will visit Australia for a much-anticipated tour from October this year. The unexpected coronavirus delays may have hit cricket across the world, but this series is undoubtedly one to look forward to when the action finally returns. It is due to feature four Test battles, three ODIs and three T20Is. It is those Test contests that look the most intriguing.
Australia will be keen to prove they are worthy of their current place at the top of the ICC Test team rankings. And as you’d expect, betting on the national team in Test series is huge for cricket fans in Australia. Considering that popular bookies like Bet365 have some great odds in Australia on the Test series, we can be sure that the Baggy Greens will be supported by many to assert their dominance on home soil once odds are announced.
However, India also have a few points to prove of there own following a disappointing Test series defeat in New Zealand. Those clashes against the Black Caps threw up some key questions that will need to be answered by captain Virat Kohli and his team ahead of the trip Down Under.
Is India’s batting unit strong enough?
After suffering a 2-0 whitewash in the Test series in New Zealand, it was India’s usually strong batting line-up that came under the most scrutiny. Opener Mayank Agarwal failed to get going in his first full away series truly. He still ended as his country’s top run-scorer but without capturing the form that saw him perform so brilliantly alongside Rohit Sharma during the victory over South Africa at the end of 2019.
That said, the talented right-handed batsman is likely to keep his place. Sharma missed the series through injury, and his return will bolster India further. However, the New Zealand tour perhaps highlighted how much India currently rely on Sharma to lead from the front. The real questions came about the strength in depth behind him.
Youngster Prithvi Shaw opened in his place but showed he is still raw despite a half-century in Christchurch. He was chosen ahead of fellow prospect Shubman Gill. The struggling openers piled extra pressure on Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Kohli, who in-turn failed to dig India out of trouble away from home.
Is there a place for KL Rahul?
One name missing from the New Zealand Test clashes was the versatile KL Rahul. The batsman was in red hot form in the one-day format at the end of 2019 but is still not a regular in the Test side. Those ODI performances, which also saw him take the gloves against Australia in January, continue to make it hard for selectors not to hand him another opportunity.
Despite struggling in the Test wins over West Indies last year, his flexibility would give India the choice of using him to strengthen either their top or middle-order options as they saw fit. His previous showings against pace attacks in England prove he could well have something to offer against the Aussies too.
Who wins the battle for the gloves?
While Rahul would also offer another back-up option with the gloves when it comes to the Test side this really is a straight fight between Rishab Pant and Wridhiman Saha at present. Pant was handed the gloves in New Zealand, but the more-experienced Saha continues to push him all the way. It’s one area that is hard to call but could be vital as India look for more World Test Championship points. The reason for Pant’s selection over Saha against the Black Caps was because of his batting, according to selectors. It suggests he will have to perform better than he did in New Zealand – 60 runs from two Test – if he is to be trusted in Australia.